Football must be more than a game. Otherwise, the furor wouldn’t last all week. All year. And a lifetime. Just ask any football fan. Most can tell you about random games from years long gone and quote statistics for their favorite players. And when the rival comes to town? Well, look out.
I’m married to one of these dedicated fans who has cheered for the Chicago Bears since age six. Not to mention he used to play quarterback in high school and college. And has coached at the high school level for the past twenty years. While he can’t recall conversations we had fifteen minutes ago, he can describe past games at every level in play-by-play detail. “We were down 30 to 7 with 3 minutes and 7 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. They had the ball on our 17 yard line and ran a …” and on it goes. (By the way, our 13-year-old son is quickly gaining his own arsenol of stories and the inability to carry on conversations with the un-interested.)
Another season of football has begun. Friday nights under the lights. Popcorn at halftime. Cheerleaders shaking their poms. Swarms of younger kids playing by the endzones. Sideline high 5’s and congratulatory slaps to the backside. (Don’t ask ‘cuz I still don’t understand it!) And on the field, surrounded by a crowd of witnesses, a running back shakes off the tackler seeking to trip him and presses on toward the endzone.
Hmm. That sounds familiar. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, …” (Hebrews 12:1a NIV) “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize …” (Philippians 3:13b-14a NIV)
Faith illustrated on the football field. Two teams engaged in a fierce battle. Set-backs and injuries. Coaches and teammates. Strategies and adjustments. Advances and victories. And a lifetime of stories from the trenches.
(As an aside, if you know a faith-filled football fanatic, you might consider taking a closer look at two of my books: Pigskin Parables: Reflections of a Football Widow and Pigskin Parables: Devotions from the Game of Football.)
What about you? Have you ever been engaged in a fierce battle? Have you had loyal teammates behind you? Have you shrugged off the entanglements to pursue your goals?